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Gustav- Blog IV

Resettling after a storm

One of the major lessons learned during Katrina was that when people got displaced and could not return to their homes, the recovery was long and complex.

Every family has a different situation, and therefore, our help to get them back on their feet needs to be customized. We need individual case management.

During Katrina, I proposed using our Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to help. The idea was not adopted, but I felt so strongly about it that I put a team together to develop a pilot, similar to the programs in ORR, to try at a future disaster. Today, for the first time, we will begin using it. I honestly think it will make a major difference in getting people back on their feet faster.

ORR is a little known part of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of HHS. Each year, through contracts with a large group of non-governmental organizations, volunteers help people who are immigrating to the United States get settled. It is in our interest to assure it is done in an orderly fashion. Not only is it the humane thing to do, it pays financial dividends quickly to have people become self-sufficient as soon as possible.

When a person is assigned to ORR, a case worker helps them navigate various government programs, and, more importantly, the officer helps the refugees develop a plan for self-sufficiency, then stays with the client until the plan is working. It has been a great success.

Today, we activated a contract through ACF's Human Services Preparedness and Response Office to help Americans in need of similar services due to Hurricane Gustav. The contract will be fulfilled by Catholic Charities, who will coordinate the activities of other organizations, who also do casework for immigrants.

With many families still displaced after Katrina, I’m looking forward to seeing the difference in this more managed approach.


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Secretary Leavitt,
Please help women keep birth control widely available. I beleive it is a womans and a girls right to have easy access to many forms of birth control including abortion. Please help me and other women protect our reproductive options. Please be a voice for women and speak out against the Bush Administration's attempts to redefine birth control. I beleive that in order for women to have equality in America women must have easy access to bith control!

thank you for you consideration, please act on our behalf

Posted by: pro-choice advocate | September 09, 2008 at 01:41 AM

Great job these people are doing for foreigners. Perhaps the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) could start helping parents deal with Child Protective Services.

Posted by: LK | September 09, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Secretary Leavett, I am still bothered by the first blog memo that I read of yours a few weeks back about the people in Alaska that can't get sewer upgrades because the funding can't be justified. I just don't understand. If money can be funded for a 'highway to nowhere', why can't families get septic systems and/or wells? Please follow up on that memo. Thank you, Rhodella Coleman

Posted by: Rhodella Coleman | September 09, 2008 at 03:53 PM

Mike Leavitt, I recently read of the HHS proposed new regulations denying funding to any hospital, clinic, health plan, etc. that does not accommodate employees who object to care that violates their religious convictions. Please continue to contend for health care workers' religious freedom. Thank you for your work!

Posted by: Elizabeth O'Neill | September 10, 2008 at 04:53 PM

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